Rohingya at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. Photo: AFP

Canada wants to play a role in solving the Rohingya refugee crisis, The Bangladesh Chronicle and New Age reported on February 5. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s special envoy to Myanmar, Bob Rae, stressed during a recent visit to Bangladesh the need for productive initiatives to solve the crisis.

Rae said after a meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen that “talks are underway, but we don’t know whether they’ll be successful.” So far, no refugees have been repatriated to Myanmar.

According to estimates by United Nations agencies and the Bangladesh foreign ministry, the number of “undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh is 1,116,000,” news sites reported. “This is not just a problem for Myanmar and Bangladesh, but will be an issue for other countries in this region,” Rae said.

There are another 40,000 Rohingya refugees in India who arrived there before the Myanmar military launched a campaign in Rohingya-inhabited areas of northern Rakhine State in 2017, which resulted in a massive exodus to Bangladesh.

On February 6, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Momen will travel to India to seek support to resolve the Rohingya crisis, stressing it is an issue that could affect regional security, The Indian Express reported on February 5.

But India’s Hindu-nationalist government sees the Rohingyas, who are Muslims, as a potential security risk. Indian authorities have started rounding up Rohingyas and sending them to Bangladesh in what appears to be a preemptive move to make sure no refugees try to leave the camps and go to India.

Indian authorities have also ceased to recognize UNHCR-issued refugee cards issued to Rohingyas in India. About 18,000 Rohingyas in India were registered with the UNHCR, Al Jazeera reported on January 29.

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